Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunday Soil Scientist: Antonio

Meet Antonio: Botanical illustrator, educator, and soil water repellency guru.

I studied Biology at the University of Seville. During the last years at the University, I became
involved in some research in the Department of Ecology, working in the wetlands of the
Doñana Natural Park. In those years, as part of the course on "Phytogeography", I collaborated
in some studies and participated in a practical work on the habitat of Drosophyllum
lusitanicum, an insectivorous plant growing in poor soils in the Strait of Gibraltar and Portugal.
This got me interested in soils, and I decided to take the course of Soil Science.

Falling over during sampling (via Antonio)

Thus, I began to work closely with the Soil Science group at the Faculty of Chemistry,
participating in various soil mapping projects, first as an intern, then as a researcher for over
15 years! After I finished studies I worked for two years as a botanical illustrator to pay my
PhD. Fortunately, I got a job as adviser in the Regional Ministry of Environment of Andalusia,
where I participated in the coordination of various groups responsible for soil mapping
projects in Andalusia.

Karstic area at "Cerro del Hierro", Sevilla (via Antonio)

I got my PhD in 2000 with a dissertation on soil mapping and erosion, and in that same year I
started teaching Soil Science at the University of Seville. Since then, I have studied soils from
Southern Spain, but also Portugal, Egypt, Australia and Mexico (where I met Ale, my wife,
botanist). Initially, my research focused on soil erosion. One day, with my friend and colleague
Lorena (my second leg), we found that some aspects of erosion could only be explained by soil
water repellency, which for me was an exciting discovery. For several years I have devoted to
the study of this property and some of its causes, such as forest fires.

Antonio in Mexico (via Antonio)

But ... what is soil water repellency? It is assumed that soils get wet when it rains and water
infiltrates, allowing plant nutrition and soil processes. Discovering that sometimes water
just does not infiltrate is an important issue. When this property appears in soils, as it may
occur after a forest fire, the water balance changes completely. Rainfall does not infiltrate,
and moves on the soil surface as run-off, increasing the intensity of erosion. Reduced
infiltration in a water-repellent soil modifies the environment of plants, leading to changes
in the composition of ecosystems, and retarding recovery. Sometimes soil characteristics are
recovered in a period of days, months or years. In other cases, recurrence of fires or changes
in soils or vegetation make hydrophobicity become permanent. There is still much to discover
about this, because of the complexity and dynamics of soil components and processes.
Today, my studies are focused on the changes induced by fire and geomorphic and hydrologic

                          Fire-induced water repellency in soil aggregates (Gorga wildfire, Alicante, Spain, July 2011).

Dr. Antonio Jordán is located at the University of Seville, Spain.


  1. Gracias por compartir algo tan importante conmigo. Considero esta breve reseña, como un homenaje a un gran ser humano que dedica gran parte de su vida a la ciencia que le gusta tanto. Me sumo a ello y espero que pronto coseche todo el éxito que merece. De todo corazón muchas felicidades y espero que aunque sea de a poquito nos vayan ilustrando de su vida y su trabajo.Leticia Ríos

  2. Translated via Google Translate:
    Thank you for sharing something so important to me. I think this brief, as a tribute to a great human being who spends much of his life to science that is so fond. I agree with this and hopefully soon reap all the success it deserves. I heartily congratulations and I hope that even little by little we will illustrate his life and work.

  3. Soil water repellency is a issue with increasing interest in soil science. Antonio's research lines seem quite suggesting. Can you post a link to some of his publications?

    1. You can find Antonio's papers here: